Millennium Post

War against the people

In the latest offensive of the Operation Green Hunt- the much maligned commando ‘operation’ against Maoists in the dense forests of Dantewada - has raised a lot of questions, as is inevitable. On the wee hours of Friday a special team of commandos of the Central Reserve Police Force were pressed into action based on a tip off that senior Maoist cadres were congregating for a critical meeting in the forests between Chintalnar, Jagargunda and Basaguda. In two separate incidents in the state’s Sukma and Bijapur districts in the early hours of Friday in the battles that were ensued, the police forces have claimed the life of 20 people suspected to be Maoists. But neither the state government nor the police have been able to confirm that the killed are indeed Maoist rebels and were plotting bloody offensive against the state. Even if they were, it is difficult to immediately endorse manslaughter of this nature.

The Maoist issue is a sensitive issue for all the affected states as well the Union home ministry. Each time such an offensive is carried out, this is the second in recent months in Jharkhand questions are raised about the possibility that not Maoists but innocent civilians, including women and children have been killed.  

The Maoist issue has been plagued by one serious lapse, lack of independent sources who could deny or confirm reports. Most conclusions regarding the identity of the diseased are usually based on prima facie evidence and here those available to the media and the public are not very agreeable. For example, if the Maoist leaders had indeed gathered for a meeting it was most likely that arms would be recovered from the site of operation. But none whatsoever have been found. The rebels also make a point not to leave behind the dead. Here it was not the case. Locals have accused the police of opening fires on civilians and there is strong suspicion that the operation was not carried out with discretion.

Here we must raise two questions. Even if the killed are Maoist guerillas, is physically eliminating the ultra-left rebels morally and politically acceptable? Second, does any state gain by declaring war against its own people?  

This is not to say that the Maoists are missionaries. They have also shown little regard for human rights but in all such cases, the responsibility of the state towards its citizens is paramount. And the state must do all it can to ensure that it does not take one false step in its desperation to eliminate rebel outfits.  

Both the Jharkhand government and the union government should investigate the case with utmost seriousness and try to find out the identity of the diseased. And to reiterate a much known issue, think again if operation Green hunt or whatever fancy names they assume, is the best way to deal with the Maoist issue. The experts of course have said time and again that dialogue may be still be the best bet.
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